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Pirates attack 88 vessels as navy, agency move against menace

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No fewer than 88 vessels were attacked in the Niger Delta between 2017 and 2018, the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) has disclosed.The Executive Secretary, Dr. Hassan Bello, who spoke during a courtesy call on the Nigerian Navy yesterday in Abuja, regretted that amid the security infrastructure by shipping companies, the incidence was high, especially at the eastern ports.

“We have received a lot of complaints from the shipping companies which have been forced to provide own security to escort their vessels to the ports. In spite of this, they recorded about 88 attacks between 2017 and 2018 in the Niger Delta region.”He observed that oftentimes, the cost of providing security is passed on to the consignee, resulting ultimately in the high cost of product in the market.Urging the naval authorities to scale up security on the waterways, Bello stated that the volatility of the Gulf of Guinea necessitated the imposition of War Risk Surcharge and related freight charges on Nigeria-bound cargoes.

The NSC boss said increased security would boost competitiveness, trade and the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).He posited that the peculiar nature of maritime security threats required concerted measures from coastal, landlocked, flag states as well as international organisations and relevant stakeholders.

To effectively tackle the challenge, the ES sought the support of the navy in the passage of an enabling legislation.The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, pledged the force’s commitment to improved security, adding that measures had been put in place to reverse the trend.

According to him, the navy has a tripartite approach to maritime security, namely surveillance, response and enforcement.He said the surveillance capability was being enhanced daily with more ships for effective patrol as well better awareness infrastructure to enable it monitor what happens in other jurisdictions.

The naval chief revealed that 40 vessels embarking on illegal operations were confiscated and 150 persons arrested and handed over to relevant agencies for prosecution in 2018. Also, 130 facilities were seized for maritime-related infractions.


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